Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The fourth obligolnian striving: an inner meaning

Tenryu-Ji, Kyoto

“The fourth: the striving, from the beginning of one's existence, to pay as quickly as possible for one's arising and individuality, in order afterward to be free to lighten as much as possible the sorrow of our Common Father.”

Upon the encounter with this higher influence, a new type of inner responsibility is incumbent. The responsibility begins with a sense of indebtedness; I see, through the active presence of the inflow and a more direct, personal, and intimate feeling-experience of the natural sacred-impulse which ought to arise in all Beings, how I owe; how so much I take for granted has been given.

It’s worth nothing here that Gurdjieff said that our individuality arises from the organic sensation of Being; (see wartime meetings) so his use of the word individuality here is critical. The beginning of one’s existence starts not at organic birth—in that sense, everyone exists. It’s the beginning of one’s inner existence that is in question here; and that inner existence comes into being, becomes alive within the heart, only with the inner action of the first two strivings. 

As the strivings progressively arise and knit themselves together, in other words, I begin to see that they recapitulate a single, whole entity or action; its a living process of coming into being that can’t be so easily separated into discrete parts.

I remember distinctly the days following my own inner, organic awakening; it was clear to me then, as it ever is to me now, that I had never actually been alive before it took place. I spent forty-six years on the surface of this planet, in other words, before I was ever born; the difference was both astonishing and devastating. It’s a difficult thing to live so long and discover it was not actually life, but just a preparation for it. One learns very practically under such circumstances that one’s arising and individuality are very much a function of inner transformation, not the simple matter of one’s birth in a physical body. 

How do I pay for such a situation? Much has been given; one "arises" (enters into more conscious Being) strictly through Grace, no matter how much effort one has expended on the path. Will only serves as a template for Grace, not an arbiter; and so much as one receives, so much must one also pay.

The way Gurdjieff has phrased it makes it clear enough that our arising and individuality come first, as givens, only after which they must be paid for. The implication (and the inevitably correct understanding, should one eventually and organically understand it) is that an inner transformation comes, after which one is required to assume responsibility and pay for the blessing of Being. 

I pay through remorse of conscience; the coin of the realm is denominated in humility, confessional, repentance, and reverence. I pay, in other words, emotionally, through contrition, which is an action of loving God for His own perfections.

This payment frees me; and what it frees me from above all is the entanglement of ego.

That freedom allows me to lighten the burden of the sorrow of our Common Father. The action does not, however, begin with selfless, charitable outer action.  It is again an inner action, referring to the mystical transubstantiation of the cosmic substance of sorrow itself, which is one of the most refined elements in the universe. This element of sorrow, which permeates all creation, can be received and digested by the human organism, but only under the inner conditions outlined by the action of the first four strivings. 

It might seem unique and impossible to imagine a universe where the transubstantiation of such a thing... A particle of the emanations of God Himself... could be undertaken by so small and insignificant an entity, but here we have to rely on the biological analogy of our own digestive system and understand it from the perspective that the nourishment of our own bodies depends on a molecular process, mediated at the cellular level. When it comes to digestion, tiny entities must always do the work for much larger ones. That is a law.

The digestion of this substance of sorrow nourishes God; we are able to participate in this mystery, but we cannot be said to understand it. It draws each person who encounters such work into a deeply emotive relationship with the divine; this relationship is highly personal, and its depth and scope of action are highly dependent upon individual circumstance. 


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